Have you ever been to a yoga or pilates class where your instructor advised against drinking any fluids during the workout? Apparently this is common. I’ve never encountered this (but I’ve only taken about 3 yoga/pilates classes….) but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. This is not good practice, because while you may not be moving as much as with other exercises (running, swimming, basketball) you are still sweating, and thus you are losing water and electrolytes. When sweating is involved, fluids need to be present. It’s as simple as that.
Where do we obtain fluids?Drinks (80%) and food (20%). Even drinks such as beer and coffee count towards your daily fluid intake. They may have mild diuretic effects, but they still count as fluid. The foods that contribute the most fluid (water) are fresh fruits and vegetables.
How do we lose fluids? Through the skin, and respiratory tract (known as “insensible fluid loss”), urine, feces, and sweat. The total amount of fluid lost really depends on the individual. Some people sweat more than others throughout the day. Even your diet will effect the amount of fluid lost each day (think about the feces part….). Random Tip: If you have to go number two, don’t hold it! The longer you hold it in, the longer your colon will have to extract fluid from your feces. This may help you retain more fluid, but it will also possibly cause constipation and pain when you finally go to the bathroom. Random Tip: If you are on a high protein diet, be sure to drink plenty of fluids. Why? The urea, which is a by-product of protein metabolism, will need excreted via the urine. The more urea you have to excrete, the more urine you will produce, thus the more fluids you loose each day.
What happens if you take in too much fluid? This is something that many of us never consider, but it’s incredibly dangerous when it happens. Taking in too much fluid, especially without food or a sports drink, can cause a bloated stomach, puffy fingers and ankles, a bad headache, and confusion. These are all signs of hyponatremia (low blood sodium). Try not to gain weight during exercise. If you do, that means you are drinking too much!
What happens if you take in too little fluid? You become dehydrated, which will have a negative effect on physical and mental performance, whether you are an athlete or not. When you become dehydrated your body temperature and your heart rate increases. You also burn more glycogen. This is not good for an athlete. Random Tip: If you have dark yellow urine, you are dehydrated! Look for a color that is close to clear.
What are the fluid recommendations for non-athletes? It’s often cited as 8 cups per day, and generally that is true. This depends on the person, however, and the environment in which they spend most of their day. People living in hotter climates may need more. People who consume very little foods, or few fruits and vegetables, may also need more. People who are on a high protein diet or who just started consuming more fiber may need more as well. There is not right answer. Just look at your pee for the answer 🙂
Before: Drink ~16 ounces (.5 liters) 2 hours before activity. Be sure to produce a light colored, almost clear urine. About 15 minutes before your activity you should consume 8 to 16 ounces of fluid (.25-.5 liters).
During: Drink to minimize loss of body weight, but be careful not to over-drink. If exercising more than an hour, or if exercising in a very hot climate that causes a lot of sweating, Gatorade or a similar sports drink may be warranted. If exercising less than an hour, water is fine. Drink between 16-64 ounces per hour (4-16 ounces per 15 minutes), depending on the workout, the environment, and your sweat rate.
After: Always weigh yourself before your workout. Then weigh yourself after your workout. Drink about 24 ounces (.75 liters) per pound lost. You can attain this throughout the rest of the day. Getting your fluid in the form of chocolate milk or Gatorade may be helpful, and may actually be necessary if you worked out for longer than an hour, or if you are a heavy sweater. Why? Glycogen replenishment (both Gatorade and chocolate milk), prevention of muscle soreness and promotion of muscle growth (chocolate milk) and to help speed rehydration (the sodium in the Gatorade and the sugar in both may help you drink more fluids). Also the electrolytes are important to replace those lost in your sweat.